CEDAR CITY — Wednesday’s “soft opening” of Cedar City’s Natural Grocers saw a few dozen shoppers in the aisles during the store’s first hour of operation.
“We’re happy with the turnout,” store manager Rich Jensen told Cedar City News.
Jensen said the store is purposely scaling down its opening due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’re doing a soft opening to get those doors open, and then we’re looking at having a nice grand opening later in the year, probably around August,” he said.
Located at 893 S. Main St., the new store is the ninth Natural Grocers location in Utah. Founded in Colorado in 1955, Natural Grocers operates 159 stores in 20 states and has approximately 3,500 employees, according to a company news release announcing the Cedar City store’s opening.
As the nation’s largest family-operated natural and organic grocery retailer, Natural Grocers offers a wide range of fresh 100% organic produce, nutritious groceries, dietary supplements and everyday household essentials.
“We’re all about organic,” Jensen said. “You come into a Natural Grocers, you don’t have to worry about if the produce is organic or not, or has it been sprayed? All of our produce is 100% pesticide-free and fully organic. We’ve got a huge lineup of organic meats, dairy and frozen foods.”
Jensen said they also have a selection of over 8,000 vitamins and supplements. The stores prepackaged bulk selections are 100% non-GMO, with many organic options. Additionally, the company’s grocery product standards prohibit hydrogenated oils and artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives.
“We’re that store for the health conscious individual or the individual that wants to start eating healthier,” he said, adding that the store carries plentiful options for almost any kind of diet.
“The keto diet, the gluten-free diet, probably any diet out there, we have something to suit their needs,” Jensen said.
As Jensen spoke with Cedar City News on Wednesday morning, sales associates could be seen throughout the store helping customers find their way around and locate desired products.
“We call it ‘aprons in the aisles,’” Jensen said, referring to the associates. “We want to keep them out there on the sales floor, helping our customers find what they need as quickly as possible and just help them have a great visit here at Natural Grocers.”
Jensen said they were able to bring on about 20 new team members from the local area.
“Anytime we can present new jobs to an area, it’s a win-win situation. We’ve got some great individuals that make up our team, and we’re excited to get them out there and get them interacting with our customers.”
According to the news release, the store will also have a dedicated nutritional health coach on its staff.
“Natural Grocers’ highly educated NHCs support customers’ health and wellness journeys with free, one-on-one health coaching sessions, which will be available via phone after the completion of Natural Grocers’ extensive NHC training program,” the news release states.
The release went on to say that Cedar City’s nutritional health coach will also host in-store nutrition classes and cooking demonstrations once the “training is complete and gatherings are deemed safe again.”
Maria Castro, regional NHC manager told Cedar City News that the health coaches not only offer free services to customers but also keep employees educated about nutrition.
“That really sets us apart in the industry,” Castro said. “We really pride ourselves on coming into a community and really immersing ourselves with the community and providing that service.”
Natural Grocers also has a neighborhood outreach program through nutrition education, in addition to a partnership with Cedar City’s local food bank, Iron County Care and Share.
Castro said plans have been in the works over the past few years to bring Natural Grocers to Cedar City.
“We’ve had a lot of requests from Cedar residents,” she said. “We were just hearing it loud and clear from the community in Cedar that they really wanted a location of their own.”
Conscious of the store’s environmental footprint, company officials say the building includes energy-saving innovations and nontoxic building materials throughout.
Although its official grand opening has been postponed, the store is featuring a number of grand opening sales and specials from now until June 30.
“We know that Cedar City has been looking for access to a larger variety of natural and organic foods closer to home and we are thrilled to be able to provide that access,” Natural Grocers co-president Kemper Isely stated in the news release. “It’s an honor to continue the mission defined in our Five Founding Principles, by bringing 100% organic produce and healthy groceries to this community at our always affordable prices.”
The new store’s modified hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8:05 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7:35 p.m. Twice a week for one hour at the beginning of the day (Sundays from 9-10 a.m. and Wednesdays from 8-9 a.m.) in-store shopping will be reserved for seniors (ages 60 and older), pregnant women and individuals with underlying medical conditions.
Cedar City News reporter KELSEY COOKE contributed to this story.
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.